It’s been almost a whole year since the MLS SuperDraft and we can kind of see how everyone did. Of course our main focus has to be on the Chicago Fire and the flurry of trades that sent everyone reeling, but we can also see who did the best, who lost, and what players really surprised us. So let's start with losers.
San Jose Earthquakes: D+
Poor San Jose can't do anything right. Their first pick was Generation Adidas goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell. I'm not saying he’s bad or that SJ didn't have a need, but really? That's your move at number 8? Tarbell ended up playing exactly 45 minutes after Bingham injured his back. And that's all. I thought they might redeem themselves with picking Patrick Hodan, Shipp’s scoring buddy from back at ND, but they just tossed him away too. Here's a lesson: don't draft a goalkeeper when you don't need one!
Colorado Rapids: F
The Rapids’ fairy tale season clearly didn't start with the draft. They traded the pick that would become Josh Yaro and their first selection, Emmanuel Appiah, would end up being dropped midseason and go to SKC. They then seemed to just be drafting for the college, getting no-names from VCU, Ohio State, and Cincinnati, all fairly good programs, but none of those players were anything. Colorado won in the end, making it to the Western Conference Final, but draft day was a resounding loss.
New England Revolution: D-
Poor New England weren’t able to pull it off in the draft OR the season. Their first pick was Jordan McCrary, who ended up getting a single appearance for the whole year. Unfortunately that appearance wasn’t even with the Revs, it was with Rochester. It looked as though they’d redeem themselves in the second round with a great steal of Wake Forest attacker Micheal Gamble, but his storyline was exactly the same as Jordan’s: one appearance with Rochester. Their only winner was the third round pick out of Indiana: Femi Hollinger-Janzen. He pooled together 19 appearances and 2 goals (one of which against the Fire), but unfortunately it was not to last as he was just recently picked up by Minnesota, lowering New England draft score back down.
Philadelphia Union: A++
When you get three Top 10 picks for basically nothing (sorry Christian Maidana, Zach Pfeffer, and Andrew Wenger), you just won the gosh darn draft! To replace them they got the consensus number one Josh Yaro, my personal number two fullback last year Keegan Rosenberry, and the best of Creighton Fabian Herbers. The first one seemed kind of like a bust, but K-Rose earned (deserved) All-Star recognition and only lost ROY because MLS wanted to pretend they were geniuses for keeping Jordan Morris in the states (he didn't do much for a lot of the season). Fabian Herbers is the real sleeper pick here as he became a pivotal part of the Philly attack that went on to attempt to shock the world, only to be outdone by Colorado. Overall their best picks were in the first round, but when you get that stacked in the first, the rest don’t matter.
Toronto FC: B
Toronto gets this just for taking Tsubasa Endoh (though they got Eriq Zavaleta, Steven Beitashour, and Clint Irwin on trades in this draft). Endoh was highly underrated going into the draft, as he had all the skill, but none of the stats to back it up. I was hoping he’d stick around for us in the second, but Toronto nabbed him at #9. Endoh got plenty of playing time, even scoring a couple goals, and proved me right to be angry at his absence on the Fire squad.
YOUR Chicago Fire: B+
Yes, even with all the the confusing and seemingly stupid trades on draft day, the Fire won. Without mentioning the Harrison trade (YET!), we gained a couple of good young players. We turned one first round pick into two players predicted to be in the Top 5. Later on we got a third rounder that I wanted and a fourth rounder that looked good in the preseason; but without a USL team, we didn't have an efficient way to keep them. But let's talk players:
Vincent Keller was a guy who I wanted to take in the second round before the draft. He came from Creighton, one of the best programs in college, and he looked like a stud coming out of there. Even though we took him in the third, he was unfortunately still an international slot and he didn't impress at all in the preseason. Instead, our second rounder was Alex Morrel, who... I forgot, what did he do?
We gave up Joevin Jones for Jonathan Campbell and I was totally okay with that. JJ is a solid attacking wingback, but we’d just drafted a top LB and we really had a need in the middle. In perspective it still looks good, even though JJ just won the cup, because J-Camp has proven that he will be there in the back for years if we will have him.
Brandon Vincent is a completely different story from J-Camp. He came in looking slow and afterwards just looked straight shook. But by the end of the season he gained enough composure to look like a Top 20 pick. But that won't stop you guys from talking about Harrison, so here it is for one last time!
(Hopefully) The Final Word on Harrison for Vincent
Jack Harrison was NEVER going to land here. It was NYCFC or bust. Most of you may not remember the fiasco that happened when the Man City Juniors tried to place a homegrown claim on this guy the moment they joined the league. The league refused it and the Pigeons developed a vendetta against anyone who would dare take what they believed was theirs. The Fire knew that they needed to stock up their defense, but they could also get some money out of that number one pick (mmmmmm GAM and TAM). So they started a rumor that they were going to take Jack Harrison with the top spot. Meanwhile (this part is pure speculation), I believe that Jack was probably thinking, “If this league won’t let me sign with my home when I clearly want to go there and there is clearly a good reason why I should be there, why don’t I just skip town and go off to Europe? Hold the league hostage like Jordan Morris did.”
Draft day, N-Rod knew that his bluff would get called, so he had to try to make sure he got his money. He decided to hold Jack Harrison hostage until NYCFC’s pick to make sure that they’d start bugging out. They weren’t “waiting for their guy” because there were about 4 Top Five defenders in that draft, they were just dragging it out so they’d get a more panicked Claudio Reyna. Which it seemed like there was.
While people now may think the Fire got a raw deal from the beginning, we must also remember the context: Jack Harrison was injured. In fact, he wouldn’t play until mid-season. Also, we still had Harry Shipp, so that position looked filled until around February. There was some sort of logic behind it and the Fire may not have come out the better in the end, but they certainly gained more from it. And I think Jack is happy where he is too.
With this I hope that we can finally end the “We traded Jack Harrison away,” excuse. Jack Harrison was never going to be here, that was all just head games. Let’s stop the head games with Brandon Vincent and let him play his game without this hanging over him.
Next week, I’ll try to go mining for some late round hidden gems. Stay tuned.